INNOCENT LANDSCAPES REVISITED: 13 / OCT / 2009
TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG
Posted by David Farrell
To blog or to blabber that is the question. Am I blogging now or have I already started to blabber, hmmm... When the nice people at Source asked me would I be interested in doing this, I turned to a wise woman who archly informed me ‘that blogs are usually written by sad old men who live alone and have a cat’ (SOMWHLAAHAC Syndrome) and while I may tick a box or two there (though I would substitute one descriptor with ‘occasionally melancholy or sporadically imbued with ennui’), I was intrigued, I reckoned I would only ever do such a thing if asked so here goes for a while at least.I admitted to the nice people at Source that I had never read a blog - (apologies to Darren Campion a former student of ours at www.theincoherentlight.com) - I am of a generation that will never be digital native no matter how hard we try and possibly think we are. Facebook, twitter etc are for the birds as far as I am concerned although I have heard some positive things about LinkedIn... So I see it as a challenge and when opportunity knocks my philosophy is have a lash. As it happens I recently came across a diary that I kept for a brief period as a fresh teenager and so I will try to avoid things like ‘JD really fancies TS but she fancies LO’S who is going out with LMcM etc’ and while a gossip blog might be more interesting I do, as mentioned, suffer somewhat from SOMWHLAAHAC Syndrome, so not a runner.The proposed nature of this escapade is to be a blog within the making of a project - now, my way of working arises from many peripatetic journeys both internally and externally and while not necessarily always a good idea, sometimes projects arise through following an intuitive curiosity rather than a linear continuity - for example, this summer largely driven by a deep ennui I began making work which slowly evolved into acquiring the working title Almost Blue - Between Two Full Moons - a title is useful as it can help to start the bracketing process of the edit. This work was born by the impromptu action of standing in front of the camera during a long exposure.
I don’t know whether this was a subconscious desire to say ‘stop, basta, enough already’ - but (un) fortunately I liked the accidental visual result as it seemed to begin to answer, or possibly further question, some doubts I had about my relationship with photographing the landscape - so instead of bringing things to a halt it actually opened another door. Now of course this image would not exist if I had not been out wandering/wondering/working (www) in the first place so at first hand here is the core of photography for me - the empirical nature of being in the world, of carrying emotional and conceptual seeds in your pocket which occasionally find fertile ground. Whether a bonsai, an oak, or presumably a weed, time, the river and possibly the moon in this case, will decide. In the next few weeks after I made these initial photographs I went out most days to Djouce Wood and its environs in Wicklow, working from late afternoon until I had to leave by torchlight.This work currently has four main strands which visually hover (somewhat like myself) between the solid and the vague with each image currently having a title such as impromptu self-portrait 00327, Djouce Wood, 2009 - (although i may remove the location) as yes impromptu is deliberately contradictory. It is a work facilitated by my recent move to the dark side ie shifting from film to medium format digital in the form of the H3D-39 in June 2009 - but more about this later. The three images below give some idea of this exploration to date.
I worked on this project quite extensively during July and August this year and it came to a hiatus by my return to teaching which brought about not only a change in schedule but in the rhythm of my thought processes. However what I really enjoyed about the process of this work was its immersion on an almost daily basis trying to sculpt something from (as opposed to Tarkovsky's with) time in other words trying to work the project from the inside out. This project now requires a considerable period of printing/editing to examine whether there is anything unsaid or is too much being said? - bearing in mind that most works improve by reductio and distillation. So possibly something to return to at some point in this endeavour as I want to take my time and not shape it by blogging pressure.The next step usually for me at this point in a project is to make a book dummy as in general my interests lie predominantly with the narrative form of the book rather than the aesthetics of the gallery although that said, this work feels at present more the latter in that so far a narrative structure has eluded me particularly as I don't want to repeat what i did within Nè vicino Nè lontano. A Lugo. It’s also a work that may end up (like many of my threads of investigation to-date) being one for me in terms of my basic attitude/thoughts on it as a body of work and whether it should be kept under the bed or let loose on an unsuspecting public. In terms of research a wise woman kindly just sent me A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits by Laura Cumming (Harper Press) which is proving to be an interesting read.This work's existence, even if i I am at one with it, as a fully fledged book is another mountain in itself as the the publishing game is such a strange business - I try always to remind myself of a story about Darwin approaching his publisher about the Origin of Species to which his publisher replied 'why don't you do a book about pigeons instead, everybody loves pigeons'... So in closing, within this blogging adventure, as is the great struggle within photography, I need to find my voice and my subject in order to make this experiment viable - I want to have something that we can put some brackets on within a relatively short period and this I will explore in the next missive or two.