I really like the set up of this photograph. Even if you haven’t got prior knowledge to how and why the image and scene was set up this way, it gives off quite a clear meaning. A meaning of a man clearly in some type of hard ship. The viewer questions why there are so many bulbs on the ceiling and why he is in such a dingy, messy living area. The viewer knows the man is living there, as there is dirty crockery to the left hand side of the photo. You really feel sympathetic to the man, even though you do not know his situation. The attention to detail is quite clear here with when you know that each bulb was hung especially for this photograph.
Jeff Wall based this photo on Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man. The novel centers on a man who, during street riots, falls into a forgotten cellar in New York and decides to live there hidden. It describes the room covered in 1369 light bulbs, and the man hiding away from the chaos above. As you can see below, Wall’s photograph was set up in this same way. Hanging many light bulbs on the ceiling, and creating a messy scene to portray the characters physiological state.