Shadows, emotion and dispersion

A much slower paced day today, and more of a mental thinking day. My ankle has been stiff ever since the big day of climbing around the coastal rocks of Rocky Cape about 5 days ago, so I really should give it some rest. The morning is therefore spent being domestic around home-base before commencing some writing, or more like some reflection of my time here thus far, getting down a few pages of all of the ideas from my walking, watching film, photography and reading thus far. Finally I am starting to see some sort of clear sense of an artistic pathway to navigate along however as my writing is a few pages in length I still need to do much more distillation. I’d prefer simplicity rather than too much to work from.

After lunch I decide to take a short walk to Mary Ann Cove, nearby to home-base. I have been here before a couple of times on this trip, but I have not explored the rocks to the right side of the boat ramp. So for the next hour and half I am zoning in on the extraordinary rock formations in the area. From black, deep orange to light sandstone coloured rocks, all jutting sharply out from the ground. Some are bulbous, some like layers of hard melted cheese, moulded by deep time in all sorts of contorted and bent shapes, so very beautiful. I find myself honing into dark crevices, as this morning I was reading a book about Swiss born painter Uwe Wittwer, in particular a quote from him, ‘you always have to search for shadows’. I think about some of the artworks that I have done in previous years whereby I have honed into sinkholes and dark crevices and how some people seem to like this kind of imagery.

Around Mary Ann Cove Mary Ann Cove Mary Ann Cove Mary Ann Cove

About an hour and a half later I’m back in the shack, writing some more and filtering through photographs taken on the first few days of being here. Wittwer also discusses the photograph and his method of re-scanning, re-photographing, photocopying and cropping. I’ve been using these techniques as a way of sketching for many years so I am intrigued how Wittwer uses them to make large-scale paintings.

Late in the afternoon I set up my camera in the living room looking out onto the shack next door and Bass Strait and I take a time lapse of the sun setting. I set the camera up in the first location that I come to without giving much consideration to setting up a formal composition. I sit by the camera and take an image every 5 seconds for about 35 minutes, until the memory card is full. I don’t look too much at the sun setting; rather I read a chapter about artist Peter Doig in a book I bought a couple of weeks ago.

After dinner, I get the fire going, it feels like its going to be cold tonight, the living room is like a Chinese laundry with clothes lying over every vantage point around the fire trying to get dry. I have 2 episodes of ‘The Story of Film’ left to watch before I have watched all 15 episodes and I want to get through them tonight. I write the following notes whilst watching.

The narrator whilst discussing the documentary ‘Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait’, by Douglas Gordon & Philippe Parreno about the famous French football player, says, ‘at times he [Zidane] was so blown up, like an Antonioni film, that he almost disperses, like an impressionist painting’. I think of that wonderful Antonioni film ‘Blow up’ that I have seen many times and I want to see it again, I wonder also if this sort of dispersion appears in any of his other films.

And then, ‘There is a psychological aspect relating to the emotional experience when the image is complex, the audience feels a sense of unease and to try to understand this the audience begins to look more carefully to get closer to the image’. Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov (Russian Ark) referring to the emotional impact of filming horizontal compositions or stretching of the film.

I go to bed thinking of film and pick up my book ‘Film Art’ and read a section about cinematography. Within it, filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard discusses his film ‘Les Carabiniers’ in which he used high contrast to give images an old newsreel, World War 1 feel. He says that he pushed the image up to 3 times through contrast to achieve the desired effect. I’m sure this wouldn’t work if the image is weak tonally, but I will certainly explore mimicking this technique. The photographic example of Goddard’s shown in the book has a beautifully worn finish, a finish similar to that in images that I have been collecting for years.

I then read an interesting section by Ernie Gehr, director of ‘Serene Velocity’ and a sequence within this film with the appearance of zooming down a corridor. Gehr says that he used time lapse photography rather than zooming, by taking 4 or 5 still images before moving the frame with the lens of the camera 5 mm in each time. Hmm, I like the thought of this technique also and will try it out in the next few days…

Today I felt like I was in a better place, I have sorted through many ideas and now want to tackle making some imagery with these ideas in mind.