A corner store window, chilled with frost and condensation in the heart of a Chicago winter becomes the quiet backdrop for Peter Hoffman's set of ghostly images. The glass barrier is so heavy with dew that it becomes an impressionistic filter, blurring form and refracting light into something figurative and dynamic. Muddled greys and muted green blues are broken by orbs of red and yellow, and the shadowy forms of casual pedestrians take on statuesque emotion. Everything is intentionally quiet and lonely, heavy with the sensation of people watching, creating an introspective and intriguing moment of self reflection and visual intrigue.
Planned as Peter Hoffman's second self-published book title Glass Corner, this personal project was photographed over four months in 2014. Previous personal projects had taken him around the world, which he considered, "sprawling and wandering," so he was interested simply in working on something closer to home. He shares, "I am always shooting off and on – just pictures of my life – and had photographed this window a few times with passing interest and I wanted to unpack the potential of it. In general I think I am drawn to empty spaces because of their potential. They are charged with possibility. And the prospect of trying to photograph the same thing over time was the sort of formal restriction I enjoy, especially after the openness of my previous project [Again and Again]."
As he studied the glass, he found a deep interest in the way manmade structures can reflexively shape and manipulate the human experience; more specifically, how this pane of glass could break or create connection. "I believe that physical space plays a role in manipulating our emotions, interpersonal connections and behavior," Peter explains. "I came to understand that the opaqueness of the window was the perfect vehicle to explore these themes. And also, a way to change my visual language so I could explore the formal qualities [of color, form and gesture] of the photographs." The muted palette and open compositions that transport Glass Corner to a mindful place, are represented elsewhere in his work and are central to his personal mission.
"This is a counterpoint to the other work I do where the pictures and method of working are so explicit and it had such limited utility. The 'successful' image, powerful as it may be, leaves little for the imagination," suggests Peter. "I know others will disagree, but the minute a photograph becomes specifically about something, it ceases to be about anything else. I don't always want to pursue that sort of work. It has an important place, but on my own time I want to make photographs that are a jumping off point for the imagination, not an illustration of a singular narrative that may or may not fade into relevance."
Glass Corner is a visually pleasing experience that has the potential to become a reflective personal journey for any viewer.
Peter Hoffman is a fine art and commercial photographer based in Chicago. Classically trained in photojournalism, he has worked for Monocle, The New York Times, The FADER and Runner’s World, among others. But on a personal level, Hoffman is a passionate and committed artist; an explorer of truth and beauty, trying to make sense of his place in the world. A self-described exercise nut, his love of running often bring him through the remote empty places that embody his personal vision.
For Glass Corner, Peter is working with designer Elana Schlenker, who also put together his first book Again and Again. You can find Peter online at www.peterghoffman.com and on instagram @peterghoffman.
Article and Interview by Philip De Jong / Hundredweight