Posted on May 19, 2015 by Jane Suh
I like the comfort of knowing my surroundings. It is an innate human quality that has helped me to survive and thrive in different environments. My economics background has trained me to be direct and calculative. Thus, I have become accustomed to look forward when solving a problem, around me when analyzing an equation, and occasionally behind me when referencing a derivative. I take the adage “keep a level head” both figuratively and literally, making sure to examine life’s situations from my vantage point.
But what happens when I look up? Down? Does changing my point of view alter what I see? This body of work tackles this question by showcasing the city of Philadelphia from different vantage points. In order to do so, I have captured scenes of Philly’s bustling streets from above – on bridges and the rooftops of parking garages – as well as its monumental buildings and skyscrapers from below. Images of myself looking out from these vantage points represent the act of shifting my perspective.
So, did changing my point of view alter what I saw? I’m not quite sure if it changed what I perceived visually, but it did give me a strange sense of control. Being able to capture every movement from above was empowering and made me feel invisible. Gazing up at a skyscraper from below allowed me to take in every detail – every crevice, reflection, and deflection of light.
Although my own vantage point is comforting and familiar, shifting my gaze up and down allowed me to be more aware, sensitive to my surroundings, and observant. But maybe more importantly, it allowed me to appreciate the things that were once unnoticed – life outside the problems, equations, and derivatives. As I prepare to transition into the next stage in my life and leave my undergraduate career behind, I hope to retain a habit of examining life’s situation from many vantage points, not just my own…stopping occasionally to look up and down.
Photography and Text by Jane Suh
About the Author: Jane Suh is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Class of 2015