Photography, over other art forms, has a powerful ability to offer the viewer an anchor in the authentic. There is a commonly held perception that because the ‘photographic’ image mechanically represents the genuine place, (that anyone can visit the location and see it for themselves), it offers the image a perception of trustworthiness, accessibility beyond the surface engagement. Now that said, there is also a flip side to this, a mistrust born out of new technology, that is corroding the once universal acceptance and ironically stimulating the respectability of film, as a non digital medium, (but that’s another story). I’ve previously explored this ‘reality’ in some depth and don’t wish to cover similar ground here. But what does stimulate my intrigue, is the psychological edges of this trust perception, (as for many reasons, we each have differing leaves of skepticism), and the way in which this can stimulate creativity, which is the area that continues to fascinate me. It offers us as photographers a way of maintaining the perceived ‘reality’, but the ability to twist and distort the imagination, developing further complexities and in turn more powerful visual and conceptually meaningful pieces of art.
Now personally speaking, I actively desire my perception, of what is ‘reality’, to be challenged. I want to be surprised; I want to be left puzzled and to be questioning how and why. For me this area of photography, offers to stimulate my visual and conceptual imagination. It flirts with science and art to illuminate the new. I have a desire to base my images in the ‘real’, but to seek out twist and extend that perception, is my creative goal. Think of it, like having the ability to see behind our known horizons, deep into space, beyond atoms and quarks. For in those yet undiscovered, grey areas of our consciousness, lies the greatest creative rewards. New connections are waiting to be discovered, new horizons sort out and examined.
Now I’m sure it sounds like I’ve lost the plot to a few of you, and I genuinely don’t mind you thinking that, but if what I’m writing makes you just wonder for a few seconds, look into that deep abyss, then I’m happy. Our world is not strait forward, it is not easy to understand, answers to questions only open up more questions without answers, but that is to me paradoxically humbling.
There seems to be a purposeful divide between what we know and what we are able to comprehend in any moment. Yes if we sit down and think about the black and white facts, (that we are on a rock crust, over a massive ball of molten rock, spinning at a 1000 miles an hour in an infinite universe), then we turn the facts into feelings through our imagination and things become really interesting. It’s an indescribable feeling of being connected to something more powerful, something that we are not in control of but are part of and struggle to even perceive. This is this feeling that I love, like the feeling one gets when stood at the foot of a mountain, gazing up and up and up, like the feeling at the edge of an ocean without the ability to conceive the vast enormity beyond our perception.
Ironically the ability to comprehend these ‘scientific facts’ seems to rely on allowing the mind space to imagine and drift into creativity. It is these feelings that get me excited when looking at the boundaries of our own perception. I cannot easily find the words to do this feeling justice; only insufficiently describe it as natural optimism. But it is this feeling that I’m trying to describe and make links to the unknown here. For me this feeling is wonderful catalyst to optimism, I feel very humbled by the knowledge that we as humans are so insignificant, that I just don’t matter in the scheme of things. Bizarre to make that statement because our world seems to excel in making the center of the universe individual. And for me this feeling is to be found at the edges of my perceived photographic reality, a gateway into my imagination but based on known facts.
Let me attempt to illustrate these words with an example, turning to this image in particular, for me it feels unusual. The composition was very important in the making of it and I paid close attention to the diagonals here in an attempt to highlight the semi-circular inlet. But what I didn’t fully expect to happen was the way in which the long exposure (three minutes) not only simplifies the wave motion but, offers us a glimpse underneath the surface. The graduating color tones then become a depth chart with a turquoise vibrancy fringed by white oxygenated turbulence.
It leaves me wanting to dive in and go deep into the ocean in an attempt to discover the as yet undiscovered. I know on one level that there is an underwater landscape here beneath the waves, and the long exposure hints to this by showing me some elements of depth, but from this perspective above the water, I can only imagine this as I’m relying on what I’ve been told, (having never dived). The water is then a physical barrier, but a portal to another perception. Am I making any sense? Do any of you feel the same? Are the men in white coats about to knock on my door?
Anyway this image was made on the south side of St Michael's Mount, I’d been to the area last year (well not so far around as this) and really wanted to try and make another image that championed the unusual geology and exploited the wonderful greens and blues in the sea. So as I took the tour around the House, I was eyeing up the location from the buttresses, but keeping the other eye firmly westward trying to second-guess the weather. It was very overcast and what you see here was a storm coming in, (a common feature of this ‘summer’), but I wasn’t disappointed as it offered me a different take on the location.
Time became precious due to the extended second guessing, (and a very nice Cornish cream tea), so on a tighter than comfortable schedule, I had to endure. You see I had to make it back around the other side of the island by 5.30pm, for the last ferry back to the shore, but managed to rattle off five or six three minutes exposures in this very inspiring location before the cats and dogs arrived. By the way I did just manage to make it back for the ferry! if not I'd have had to wait for the tide to go out enough to wade thy deep, camera firmly held high, along the winding cobbled road connecting the mount to the mainland. (Not even imagining how furious Cathy would have been!) Anyway it always amuses me that people are prepared to get wet wading through the incoming tide here. But it does make me chuckle watching them each year I visit the mount.
Posted by jasontheaker on 2008-10-09 07:46:14
Tagged: , “Jason Theaker” , Cornwall , “St Michael's Mount” , Atlantic , Pensants , “Mouse hole” , Turquoise , Sea , “ten stop” , B+W , ocean , Earth , Planets , Philosophy , West , South , Storm , Rain , Clouds , Landscape Photography