[Steve's feedback: Your text "What Does It Take to Make a Contemplative Practice?" will serve as the basis for you text on method. You have a strong question there and you talk about your work in a straight forward way. So, this text could serve as an continuation of "What Does It Take to Make a Contemplative Practice?". The conversation with your friend on the phone thingie seems useful. It led me to suppose that in your work there is a play between the duration of a journey and the duration of a photograph. ]
I NEED TO STEW ON THIS FOR LONGER. THOUGH I HAD A USEFUL CHAT WITH INE TODAY WHICH HELPED. :-/
There has been a broadening of method since the beginning of the course.
A list of all my current methods.
- unaltered photographs
- altered photographs during exposure
- altered photographs during printing (darkroom)
- cameraless methods in the darkroom
- enlargerless methods in the darkroom (painting with light)
- cameraless methods out "in the field" (cyanotypes)
- projection experiments "in the studio"
What have you been making?
I have been taking photographs from the train on my commute between Rotterdam and Amsterdam. (Is this what I want to talk about here?)
I tend to take photos in other places, in spaces away from my home space—elsewhere. This state of being, when one is literally transported away from familiar spaces, creates space for contemplation. Being somewhere else (in a place), or on the way to somewhere else (in a non-place1), is fertile ground for wandering thoughts, dreamlike states and reflection.
How did you do it? (method)
What? (This work is not done yet, everything is in neg form) Printing in the darkroom? Scans? Straight prints?
How? Taking approximately one second exposures from the train looking down at the tracks, tunnel walls and ground. I wish to avoid any direct reference to the Dutch polder landscape as my interest lies not with the subject matter but with the journey; the going from one place to another. I am currently exploiting a fault with my camera which prevents the film advancing properly to the next frame, thereby creating overlapping of images.
Why? I am investigating how still images can be used to give a sense of movement and journey through non-representational methods. Can I make a photo that looks like the feeling of going somewhere?
I use photography as an impressionistic rather than documentary tool. This interest in the metaphysical extends to my methods of working with the medium. Abstraction is one way to unravel and expose the inner workings of the photographic process and apparatus; to challenge conceptions of what constitutes a photograph. “Abstract photography challenges our popular view of photography as an objective image of reality by reasserting its constructed nature... Non-representational photography lives in this contested middle ground between material reality and photographic illusion”. (Kasten, 2012)
Influential texts — Nonhuman Photography (to help me understand what it means to take a photograph today. To understand the role of photography today and where I sit within that)
Core research strand/obsessions
— fascination with slow time. Things taking time. Contemplation.
— Representational photographs: always taken elsewhere. The emphasis is on journey and wanderlust.
— Non-representational photographs: taken/or created anywhere (without place). The emphasis is on investigating underlying systems, the materiality of the medium and physical properties of light. Using abstraction as an expressionist tool.
Relation to previous practice
• Increasingly looking to non-representational outcomes, incorporating processes that do not use a camera and creating imagery directly in the darkroom or via the use of optical filters, prisms and other devices.
• Previous projects have focussed more directly on representational photography and any abstraction employed took place within the camera. I’m now exploring ways that abstraction can also be incorporated after the photograph has been taken, incorporating what I refer to as “interventions” in the darkroom at the printing stage. As my research has led me to an interest in time and slowness of process I am now extending the “exposure time” of any given photograph I make. My apparatus extends beyond the bounds of the camera, and now incorporates analogue post-production methods which can dramatically change the resulting image through the introduction of colours, uneven exposure times, distortion through lenticular materials and other interventions.
What do you want to make next?
• I want to take photographs again. After a hiatus from taking photographs with my medium format camera and instead focussing on experimental cameraless techniques I would like to bring “the world” back into my work.
• I want to increase the scale of my work. If my work is to be about contemplation and a focus on immersive experiences, I believe that incorporating large scale into my work is a means to that end.
• At this moment my ambitions for my work are multifold. Although the photographic apparatus lies at the core of my practice, my current research is opening up new ways of thinking and practical pathways, resulting in a temporary state of flux and confusion. I am increasingly obsessed with capturing the unseen, what lies beneath, in exposing hidden systems and layers of meaning. Like Japanese artist Yushitori Muzitani I want my work to “[vacillate] between the oneiric and the pictorial…between nature and the fantastic” (Diaz, 2019). I don’t want to stop taking photographs but I don’t only want to take photographs. (For example, I see great potential in immersive installations, using a combination of photography, moving image, sound, space and light, to create a meditative or contemplative experience for the viewer.)
Why do you want to make it?
Because I have to. :-) (I’ll work on this)
Relation to a larger context
There are many artists exploring the methods I’m employing and it is my intention to create something that is distinctly mine, or at least bares a unique signature. The outcomes of all my different methods already suggests that I have a signature aesthetic. Apparently no matter which ideas I choose to pursue that aesthetic will come through. As an artist, this is very reassuring and relieves some of the pressure I’ve put on myself to rationalise the two distinct streams I am pursuing i.e. optics/physical properties of light/the apparatus & journey/place/non-place.