Ever since the photographer Eadweard Muybridge was paid $25,000 in 1878 by Leland Stanford to help Stanford win a bet that a galloping horse has at some point, all fours hooves off the ground, the series has been near and dear to photography.
Professionally I synthesize information from disparate sources into something that makes sense to my customers. That same activity also touches this week’s series, which is also part of the umbrella project “Roadside Attractions”. Speaking of disparate sources here is a collection that are informing my current approach.
David Hockney brought cubism to photography through his use of Polaroids. When I think of Polaroids the fours words that come mind are quick, ephemeral, disposable, and time. There is also a sense of play to Polaroids that I enjoy. After all this art and photography arena should be enjoyable. The borders of a Polaroid are equal on the left, right, and top sides. The ratio of total width to total height is 1:31.
Hilla and Bernd Becher founded one of the two major photographic schools of the late 1900’s, The Dusseldorf School of Photography. The Bechers proposed, practiced, and taught a rigorous approach to photography that valued technical excellence and objectivity. The Becher’s collection of fading industrial artifacts are not instantly captivating. The patient viewer though is richly rewarded. The photos of world renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky have roots in the Dusseldorf school. I have long been drawn to the conflict between beauty and subject matter in his work.
Though I enjoy the work of the people I follow on Instagram, there is something disturbing about the way images are presented and consumed. The medium, especially on a smart phone, is not conducive to thoughtful consideration. The medium promotes rapid scrolling through one’s feed and responding with one of 3 choices, do nothing, like, or comment. The quality of photographers I follow is high and their craftsmanship is visible. Instagram does not give photographers their due. The challenge is how does one arrest attention spans.
After my first photograph in this series I concluded that it would be immoral not to pick up the subject matter after capturing an image. I have also come to appreciate that walking along various verges with tripod, camera, gloves, and a garbage bag helps to accentuate the ephemeral nature of these particular images and photography in general.
You may conclude that all this sounds like pretentious bullshit. Depending on the day and hour I may well agree with you. I question and doubt myself constantly.
I mentioned the other day that I am working on a number of series. All the series fit under the broad banner called “Roadside Attractions”. I am currently calling today’s incomplete series “The Thin Line”. Though I have posted some of these in the past month, I thought it might be interesting to show them all together as a cohesive work in progress.
A week ago I found a location that had potential. Yesterday morning the alarm went off early, and once again I was bound for the Longview area. The intended destination was too far for the time allotted. I was tired and out of mental sorts for most of the morning. In fact, at one point I pulled onto the side of the road and went to sleep for half an hour.
The morning was not without its rewards. I did add to couple of series, and here is my consolation prize.
Last weekend there was no road trip. Instead, I experimented in the garden. Those experiments produced lessons for me but nothing I care to share. Earlier this morning, there were roads new and old to me. I slept through the alarm at 3:45, and only woke up at 4:20 when my wife asked me if I was still going for a drive. 10 minutes later I was out the door.
So, I have started to think in terms of series. All these photos were taken this morning, and are contributions to multiple series, except for the goat. The goat was for fun. He and his mate were near the middle of the gravel road and rather hard to miss. Though I was thinking of series this morning, I was also just reveling in the drive and the experience.
Rather than a collection of related thoughts, these photos and today’s posting are Works in Progress. The photos are numbered in the order they were captured.
Today, I drove South. I had an image in mind. I did not capture the envisaged image. That will have to wait for another day. Despite a couple of events that did not go well, the morning was rewarding. I hope the deer I clipped is ok.
The alarm was set for 4:00. I woke at 3:59. Initially, the skies were grey, and the land was without contrast. Sol, showed his (or perhaps she is her) face briefly.
Today’s quartet continue with the overtly stated ideas of last week. Into the mix, there is also my interest in fences both physical and metaphorically. For so much space we as Western Canadians have spent an amazing amount of effort establishing ownership over the land, often in highly ironic ways. Metaphorically we establish boundaries to our own thoughts and actions, for any number of highly debatable reasons.
Yesterday evening, I checked the weather and said to myself, “self tomorrow will be a good morning, and you should get your ass out of bed bright and early, drive just west of Drumheller, and explore an area on your list.”
4:30 this morning arrived. I turned over, saying to myself it’s too early. 65 minutes later I awoke again and 15 minutes later I was out the door.
I was thinking of cultural landscapes, as I drove. At its simplest cultural landscapes are vistas that recognize the human touch to the land. Later in the day, I was also thinking the photographic explorations I share with you are often all over the map. As a result, the photos appear disconnected. To be honest not only are the photos disconnected, but my thoughts are not always coherent. Today though, I have 4 photos exploring cultural landscapes. As well I wanted to let you know visually that these were roadside attractions.
By the time I reached my intended destination, I had become so distracted by the previous hours’ light, the best light of the morning was gone. These are some of the distractions.