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Category: Speculation Road

A map of my head

Undermined Alder, Joyce Quadrangle, August 2010

I have a spot on the top of my head that’s preternaturally prone to injury. Always the same spot gets bumped, banged. Balding too of course.  Re-denting  is exquisitely painful- just today at work under a trailer I found the leaf spring bracket with my ‘g’ spot. For just an instant all the life drains and everything goes all rubbery and the cosmos is put on dramatic notice for explanation.  I wonder how much damage I’m doing, and must rely on tender honesties of wife and friends, and a shove  in the right direction if I get a little stuck.

So my lovely wife-   into my second weekend of filmholder work, atop of 12 straight weekends of my  uninspired begumblement–  but into her 14th week of tripping over cameras bags and tripods abandoned by the front door, finally asks:  So, are you using this stuff? And  I’m finally missing taking pictures. Whooey, that seems easy now.

And speaking of dark forests, the latest gash through the densest of silver fir and alder behind the house is an odd study of contrasts. There must have been a million yards of road base brought in and the forest darkens at it’s perimeter like oxidation at the edges of a cut, bruised and almost embarrassed at the sudden exposure, and the ease of the humiliation.. I never find this stuff in the daylight hours.

While you were sleeping

Westbound Road, Joyce Quadrangle, February 2010

I took several months off to reboot. Not sure if I’m back in the swing of it so much as just temporarily re-engaged. One of my favorite dawn strolls has been…what’s a good word here? Destroyed? That really has too much finality to it. Re-purposed is a ghastly word but it suits, at least for the moment.

Sleepers awake

Westbound Road, Joyce Quadrangle, March 2009

Staying on the  themes of the past few posts, my world is getting smaller and stranger the more I explore the peninsula. Even directly behind my house is an odd upheaval in expectation- there are these dense forests of stunted fir without ground clutter like some arid alpine thicket where the growing season only lasts 6 weeks. Completely atypical of this area, where salal, swordfern and other ground cover generally swarm with kinetic abandon. And the light is all wrong. There is a lovely diffuse glow in many of the forestes here, subalpine or rainforest; but these silver fir forests have a mono-organism austerity and darkness that borders on the fantastic. It’s almost a struggle to make these scenes look real- especially at these small sizes where the contrasts compound and the details seem to reverse into negative space. Each day there’s a new surpirse in the surrounding woods, almost as if spreading nightly in moonfed generation.

One tube wonder

Flooded Roots, Joyce Quadrangle, March 2009

I’m still having some issues with expansive highlights in carbon transfer printing, which is trypical of the process. Trying to get a single black pigmented tissue to provide highkey fogs and skies typical of my coastal work isn’t the best use of the process- imagine trying to watercolor a bright open sky with a tube of black paint. But these dark forest scapes are ideal for the process, and the range from the single tube of lamp black watercolor is suddenly astounding, which make me want to try for the open high tonal skies all over again, and so on. And so on.  I’m leaning towards trying a duotone carbon process for the highkey coastal stuff, using a seperate gray tissue and printing cycle just for the highlights, but that’s a whole new can of tedium. Almost easier to keep trying the same things and expecting different results :p

Pop. several

Logging Road, Joyce Quadrangle, March 2009

Coming back from Port Angeles yesterday I had a lucid moment driving past the Welcome to Joyce sign. For an instant things existed as they are instead of how I’ve come to think of them.  Driving past dark trailers and houses I realized how little I really know about the town and the people who live here. I’ve been here roughly 6 years.

Granted, I’m self absorbed, and have no real plans to change. Brief, perfunctory thoughts of joining the volunteer fire dept, posting handyman service flyers with tearaway phone numbers at the general store…  I really would do anything for a neighbor…but you need it when?  The fact is I’m more than a little intolerant of anything that disrupts my routines.

But now that the workfront is quiet, I’m on a stricter ration of social involvement- most of it electronic. Cell phone calls, email, etc. This sadly suits my routine- I’ve never been more productive. I’m fairly gregarious by nature so this is all new and ponderable. The romantic in me tries to despise the technology when really just dislikes the isolation.  I attempt bloated, masking macrothoughts of social engineering, evolutionary perversions through devices, consumerism and pure informational bombardment..Huxley’s new social trainee…but the truth is it’s never been easier to live in the middle of nowhere and do the sort of work that I want to do.

A minor exhaustion

Grass Splash, Joyce Quadrangle, March 2009

I watched William Eggleston in the Real World last night. I admit I’d not heard of the documentary until searching through NetFlix for a biopic on Alfred Stieglitz, but it was a nice surprise.  It starts out with Eggleston wandering around a small town in Kentucky on a photo safari of sorts at the commission of Gus Van Zant. The opening scenes and indeed the film entire are ardently low-fi; almost hesitant, handheld shots crapulent with peripheral noise and harsh light and competing on equal footing with Eggleston, yet there is a tone-perfect symmetry in Eggleston’s convalescent shuffle, subaudible drawl and the initial reluctance to haul the camera to his eye, as if first attempting to exhaust the scene’s accountability before taking the picture.

At first I thought these opening scenes were just a little stage fright. But then as later scenes unfold Eggleston remains unapologetically himself, though detours of drinking and synthesizer recitals, steadfastly uninterested in explaining away the fun of it despite the predictable toadstools of artspeak the interviewer/filmmaker tries to prompt him upon.  Eggleston at last squints, literally, though such epic premise. “Art, or what we call that, you can love it and appreciate it, but you can’t really talk about it. Doesn’t make any sense.”

I latched immediately onto this title, after originally the doc on Stieglitz, as an insight into the methods and therefor the very minds of some giant role models… I’m not sure why photographers are so fascinated by the way other photographers work. What is there, exactly,  to explain about the act of taking a photograph? The abstractions in the subject tend to fill quickly with surrogations about gear, lenses, film, etc. All so much general noise, like wind on a unsheilded mic, and just as temporal. What I like most about Eggleston’s work is it doesn’t inspire such questions in me. I’m left with only the act, the photograph, the laconia of movements and gestures that might seem to suspect the world’s design, but never its space. There’s a sense of searching for something that’s not fully known to be missing, yet the picture always seems ultimately taken as a way to catalogue this spot as having been thoroughly noted nontheless.  Each shot a mild exhaustion, then onto the next.