This past month has been full.
I travelled up to the Gold Coast by plane, hung out with some pretty amazingly close friends for a couple of days, then joined up with a small group on a road trip.
The road trip saw us staying in Brisbane for 2 days and nights, then travelling the 13 hour drive down to Sydney, where I stayed at another friends place, and then completed the journey by heading back to Melbourne by plane.
Usually I just take my phone and end up with a generically passable selection of photos. This doesn’t bother me too much if it’s just friends and such and relatable to general social media uploads. I like the idea of travelling light. And usually aim for that.
This time I decided to take my SLR to try some ideas out and to make sure I kept up with my homework. Honestly, once again, I was reminded how little I use a bulky camera in a more social setting, but I did still manage to get off a few shots.
At the Gold Coast, the night time view from the hotel room was pretty lovely with the buildings framed by street and car tail lights. I have to admit the first day or two I took quite a few shots from the balcony of the lights at night time. I had in mind the current sketchbook assignment which was due within the week.
- Using any media you like, make a work or manipulate an image in such a way as to exhibit the process of making or unmaking as a quality of time or duration — from slow to fast, as a sequence of one thing after another, using repetition, or abrupt transitions or gaps and blanks, giving the effect of a single glance or a long slow stare or ?
- Using the same image, repeat the above two more times but differently each time.
Thinking about this assignment and the imagery, I was reminded of the little movies I used to take about 6 years ago.
So I am going to digress back for a bit, to revisit past experience, and to acknowledge how I arrived at the point I did with the assignment.
During a particularly disjointed and cloudy time of my life, I took an art pilgrimage to New York. It was an attempt to find myself, to spend time in uninterrupted artistic thought after 15 years of being a mother and wife. Part of this trip involved visiting and staying with an online friend I had met, who lived within the Mississippi area. This was during July/August of 2008.
On arrival, and once settled into the hotel room, my friend Joe, (who really loved his car, and driving around in it), insisted he show off the area he grew up in. I held my tiny, digital (filming capable) camera out the window, laughing at my new found sense of freedom, and enjoying the swishy and blended imagery of life speeding past in the form of trees, houses and paddocks around the back streets of Memphis, Tennessee.
I had already experienced this photographic style the summer before.
Being morbidly unhappy with almost everything at that time, I recall myself reflectively sitting by a campfire in Coffs Harbour, after a particularly rainy Woodford Folk Festival, as we had, it turned out, our last ever camping holiday together as a family unit.
I noticed the blueness of the trees on the very stormy nights. (It rained for the entire holiday, which did nothing to lighten anyone’s mood).
The colours certainly matched my own mood, and, taking photo’s prior to my USA trip, on that same tiny Olympus camera, I found, while looking through the lens at the stormy trees, my own personal issues reflected back to me. I found, if I moved the camera horizontally, I was creating an image which evoked the despondency of my dark moments, my growing sense of loneliness within a crowd, my very real and deep cry for more personal space, more solitude.
The silence of this final image and the memory of the loud and stormy leaf rustling pay tribute to my internal conflicts at the time and they set a precedent for the moving imagery I captured when in Mississippi.
As I mentioned Mississippi was an entirely different mood.
I found myself thinking of Howard Arkley and almost sensed the way he would have responded to the very suburban landscape of some parts of inner Memphis. As Joe drove along one particularly neat row of fence lines with well manicured gardens, and clean well looked after houses.
In the end, at RMIT studying for my Diploma in Visual Arts, I wasn’t happy with the end result of lining up the photo’s. I felt that they would work so much better in single larger format. The movement in the photo’s needed much more space, more time in some ways and my working of them squashed them, shut them down, and did not show the scope of each image in full.
So now, I come back to where my assignment was taking me, the Gold Coast night lights, and an assignment which related to time. In the back of my mind were those ideas I have just discussed in the previous works. Sense of movement and the sound of palm trees moving in the wind a reminder of Coffs Harbour. The balmy climate a reminder of Memphis.
Now, many years later, having a specific assignment to do, after a period of absence, I find I have an appreciation for the visuals that come as a result of the slight movement of the camera. The production of lines and colors steaming out from lights, more by the body of the camera moving, rather than the open shutter. An an appreciation or even affinity with ‘The Linked Ring‘ style of photographic ideals, as well as my own affiliation with an almost, but not completely, abstract expressionistic view, or even a touch of unconscious connection to my imagery, such as in a surrealist endeavour.
So with this piece, I was able to utilise mirroring as a tool to aid familiarity. Building the story from original image,through to formless movement then repeating it back to itself in a more solid (but reflected) form. The movement of the light pushes the image to deeper obscurity with a washy palette of colors, where only previous imagery gives away what the actual construct is, and then reversing itself back out into a new image, same but different. Lapses of time slowed down, altered.