Found Footage: the Numbers Challenge
It was on a bicycle path near the fortified town of Hellevoetsluis that I got a brilliant idea. Or let me rephrase that: just a good idea.
At regular distances, I estimate about a hundred meters, nummers were written on the asphalt with yellow paint. As I got closer to the ramparts, the numbers counted down, until I arrived at 1. I took the following picture of the peeling paint on the rough tarmac, with some clover and withered grass by the side of the path.
That was the beginning of a new photo project, which I refer to as the numbers challenge. The assignment: photograph all numbers from 1 to 100, in order of appearance.
A few months have passed since then and it’s a much bigger challenge than I expected. The modern world is full of numbers; I see them around me all the time when I’m out with my camera, just not the ones i’m looking for.
I often see the digit that I need as part of something bigger: the 2 in 1628. But that is not what I had in mind: they must be stand-alone numbers.
I could, of course, create a schedule from 1 to 100 and then check the numbers that I shoot as soon as I see them. But that would make it too easy, so I work my way from one through hundred in the right order. Here are the first twelve.
There is of course a shortcut to get to 100 in an easy way: just photographs all house numbers in a street. But I have imposed another restriction: they must be different numbers. I aim for the greatest possible diversity of fonts, colors and uses.
With the first batch, I think I managed to achieve that variety. They include a road surface, a mooring post, a license plate, a train, a traffic sign, a bicycle route number and a scaffolding post. And okay, five house numbers, but very different ones; I strive to further reduce the number of house numbers in the remaining 88.
I conclude this blog post, for the time being, with my number 12: two gold leaf digits, a little crooked, with rusty screws attached to a white lacquered wooden doorpost, with some remnants of cobwebs on them. I’m looking for a pretty number 13 now; I will post updates in the course of time to show the progress.
And of course everyone can join the numbers challenge. Number 100, here we come!
Update: March 31, 2019
Slowly but surely I am getting closer to 100. After having scored the 29 yesterday, I am now looking for a 30. That can never take long, the 31 will probably be harder.
As I get into the higher numbers, it becomes more difficult to avoid the obvious house numbers. But at least I am looking for house numbers with some originality. And among numbers 13 to 24 there are several other items likeo a bollard, a railway platform, a restaurant billboard, a supermarket advertisement and a building.
Update: April 29, 2019
It gets harder as the numbers get higher. Most series start at 1 and stop quite soon afterwards. A train has two classes, Rotterdam Central Station has 16 platforms, a day has 24 hours, a month has (maximum) 31 days. Those are not longer useful because by now I’m looking for number 38.
The ultimate goal is a colorful and diverse collage with all numbers from 1 to 100 on a poster. Below we see a preview: no. 1 through 36. On to the next intermediate target, 7 x 7 = 49
Update: June 25, 2019
After a little bit over a year I am halfway through the challenge. Recently it seems to be going faster than before; I work a bit harder than before but also get a lot of help from people around me. I am particularly indebted to travel companions A., A. and I.
I’m still often tempted to cling to the omnipresent house numbers, but I still manage to resist that temptation most of the times. The last ten included an advertising poster (40), a T-shirt (42), a restaurant table (43), a locker (44), a bicycle shed (45), a lamppost (47) and a ship (48). And okay, also three house numbers.
Update: November 17, 2019
And one again a milestone has been achieved number 64. Since this number is a square it’s possible to fit all spotted numbers in a grid of 8 by 8. Still one stop to go: the 81. And, of course, the ultimate goal of the challenge: the 100.