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Stephen Calcutt Turns Scratched Up Bus Stops into Abstract Photography

In his disorienting abstract photography series Bus Stop, Stephen Calcutt looks closer at Birmingham’s plexiglass shelter etchings.

For his abstract photography series Bus Stop, photographer Stephen Calcutt found a new way to document graffiti. Instead of spray paint, he turned his focus on the scratched-in etchings that people make on plexiglass bus shelters.

That’s not to say that he thinks these scratch marks look good. He says, “Graffiti can be great art, however, for me, the etched, scrawled and scratched graffiti into the plexiglass windows of the bus stop feels like a violation. like a poke in the eye, or deteriorating vision through age or disease. I’ve yet to see any of these etchings that looks great in it’s own right. I also feel a window’s full potential as a clear barrier between yourself and the elements is compromised when the view beyond is obscured, distorted and blurred by the scratches.

"My unique form of street photography is a consequence of my frequenting bus stops and shelters around the City of Birmingham,” he explains. “I fix my camera on the etched lines and generally put the view out of focus. It’s in the processes after that I enhance the image by merging the graffiti and the view beyond. Some are more abstract than others, at first glance looking like paintings. I love the way they are almost anti-photo, they resonates with my past engagement with punk culture. There is a lot of energy in these pictures. they invoke frustration, beauty, love, pain and anger. I have to let go some how when viewing them. I need to let them be what they are to fully enjoy them.”

The result is a disorienting series that evokes the restless feeling of waiting for the bus, and the impulse to be destructive. Calcutt’s photos also raise questions about the way individuals exist in public space, highlighting the way graffiti—and the way we view it—can impact our perception of the world around us.

See more of Stephen Calcutt’s photography at his online portfolio.

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