As a factory worker for most of his life, George Ciardi has always had an affinity for the "accidental artistry" of the places where he worked. "It's all this functionality that ends up being beautiful in odd ways," he says. Ciardi took a job as a courier two and a half years ago, but stuck in a car all day, he soon felt "visually frustrated" and missed the rhythm of factory life. That all changed when he began seeing the old buildings he delivered packages to in a different light.
"My job takes me to all these great locations," Ciardi says. "So I started writing down the places that might be promiq sing and going back at night with my camera."
The spooky colors in Ciardi's images are provided by the buildings' own outdoor lighting. The yellowish hues come from sodium vapor lights, while mercury vapor lights give the greenish-blue tones.
"It's very important to me to not use filters or software to get this effect," he says. "These are what the original places look like. Their combination of eeriness and serenity is what I am trying to capture."
Near the end of one evening of shooting, Ciardi was driving past an old mill. "All of the steam pipes were off, and it didn't look very interesting. Then as I was driving past, they all came on at once and the noise was deafening. I stopped and set up very quickly and got off a few shots. I had to shoot over the top of a barbed wire fence, which I cropped out of the bottom of the frame." The result was "Midnight Sun," at upper right.
It's perhaps no surprise that Ciardi sometimes is confronted by building guards on his nocturnal forays. Ciardi breaks them down into three categories. "The police always think I am crazy, but they let me stay," he says. "Hired security guards always tell me to leave. The best guys by far are the night watchmen, the ones that actually work for the companies. They get excited and take me around inside to show me things no one else sees."
Ciardi's work is on display at venues throughout Seattle, including the Fine Impressions Gallery, the Gallery@Madison Audio, and in the lobby of the 600 Stewart building.