I’m done with the study now. As a way of coming to terms from the shift from late nights and odd hours, to a life with goals and paths….actually no this sentence is going nowhere. It’s not even interesting in the way that many of the dead ends and sharp lefts in life have been. Here’s a series of pieces about some of the more memorable aspects of the last couple of years.
Different artistic mediums are good for different things. Graphic novels, for example, are perfect for telling stories which shift backward and forward through time, due to their combination of the still image and text. When anyone born north of the nineteen forties wants a brief taste of their youth, it is probably to the pop singles of the time that they turn. Photography is good for many things. Providing us with something that looks very much like reality, but isn’t, would be one. An ability to chop up time into the smallest fractions is another. What photography isn’t good at, for me, is bridging the gap between then and now. I look at pictures I took a few years back of my children at the beach, and remember that time, not thinking about the years in between that moment and the now, when I am holding the image between my fingers.
I wondered whether it is possible for photography to bridge a time in the past to now. Many photographers have tried. The Japanese photographer, Kazuma Obara suggested a way when he used film found in Pripyat, and long expired, to document the lives of those who have been affected by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. For me, I made copies of images taken at the beach and then left them to the elements for the past ten months. The pictures became worn and tattered in ways I couldn’t predict or replicate. The patterns made by sun, rain and dirt suggest the lives my children and I have lived since that moment in front of the camera.
Another thing photography does (whether good or bad) is show surfaces only. A novel could devote pages to how my daughter’s hair changes colour in the sun, or how she can switch from serenity to despair in a heartbeat. Not so the photograph. I considered how I could add more of my daughter’s inner world to my degraded images, and began to attach her drawings to the back of the photographs and then shoot through the two pieces of paper with flash. Do they amount to much? As always, it isn’t for me to say. But they connect somewhere, and are pleasing to look at. Which will do for now.